I have spent the past few years exploring theories of creativity with the keen interest only an upbringing favouring hard sciences and maths can engender. Having worked in the marketing field, I’ve been exposed to ‘creative types’, seminars on thinking outside the box, brainstorming tutorials, and numerous professionals with opinions on the matter. If there is one industry that knows how to commercialise creativity, it’s marketing.
Commercialism aside, the theories of creativity I discovered did make huge differences to my own thinking and creative processes. However, there was one nugget of wisdom that has had a huge impact on the way I think about my work and my life:
Your output is defined by your input."
I tend to think of this in the mode of 90’s dieting commercials: “You are what you eat”. Essentially the concept is that if you have an ordinary, everyday life and set of experiences, you’re probably going to produce work that is pretty average. Conversely, if you’ve just spent 2 months traversing India in a rickshaw with not much bar your passport and a few pairs of not-so-fresh underwear, you’re probably going to be creating on a whole different level.
There are a huge number of ways you can go about making your input more extraordinary. Here is a by no means exhaustive list of 8 ways you can break out of your comfort zone and explore more of what life has to offer:
1. Change your routine
Do you work roughly the same hours each week, see the same friends, cook the same dishes? It’s time to get out of your routine. Try taking a day off to go to a garden, the beach, or just see how far you can drive before you have to turn back. Whatever you decide to do, make it something you haven’t done in weeks (or ever).
I could rant about the benefits of travel but I know how big, impossible, scary and expensive it can seem from the comfort of your home. So I’ll just leave you with this: it’s never as big, impossible, scary or expensive as it seems from your couch. Start small if you have to and don’t be afraid to go it alone.
3. Look up
People rarely look up. Do. There may not be anything particularly interesting, but it can certainly change your mindset that day.
4. Do something physical
Get out of your head and spend time feeling your body move (or struggle). Skip the run and try something new: go kayaking, take a trapeze class, or try beach yoga.
5. Talk to strangers
I know, they can be weird and creepy. But maybe you can write them into a character? A bar job is great for this.
6. Take a class in a different kind of creative endeavour
I’ve tried them all and failed at most. Whether you find something new, or develop more of an appreciation for your own discipline, you can’t lose. Most community colleges have classes in various forms of painting and drawing, sewing, cooking and design.
7. Stop for a busker
Some of these guys can be seriously talented, and it costs you next to nothing. The best thing is, standing on the pavement for 10 minutes really pulls you out of the average day you were going to have.
8. Watch TED talks
Some of the best creative minds worldwide in one website. It’s inspiring, educational and easy (you can check out the website and talks here, or have a look at what TED talks Writer's Edit are discussing here, and here).